Monthly Archives

June 2014

Deadly secrets could be exposed

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Stuff co.nz 21 June 2014
Changing the way doctors certify deaths could expose significant numbers of hidden voluntary euthanasia cases among the elderly, the chief coroner says.
As elderly patients are nursed to death, physicians or relatives could mercifully, but illegally, hasten their death and escape without conviction, Judge Neil MacLean said.
In most circumstances, under current legislation, only one doctor has to sign off a death certificate and they can do so without even viewing the deceased.
However, it would be impossible for the doctor to know if an elderly patient in palliative care, who has co-morbidities, had committed suicide by morphine overdose or had been assisted to die by a physician or relative, MacLean said. “Short of doing an autopsy on everybody, we would never know.”
In these cases, often the patients would be having their medical treatment, such as food, fluids and antibiotics, withdrawn and they would be kept comfortable with constant pain relief.
“The difference between giving someone enough pain-killing drugs to ease their pain and then going to the next stage of upping the dose to deliberately bring their death forward a week or a month is a very fine line,” MacLean said.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/10184616/Deadly-secrets-could-be-exposed

Derek Miedema: Euthanasia hurts families

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National Post 16 June 2014
My brother, who is severely handicapped, was once admitted to the hospital for pneumonia. During the few hours my family was not with him, a “do not resuscitate” bracelet was attached to his arm. My mother found out about it by accident when she asked what the purple bracelet was for.
I can imagine the assumption: he’s so severely handicapped that we should let the pneumonia kill him. To have my brother die this way would have been absolutely devastating to our family.
Bill 52, which ushers in doctor-assisted suicide in Quebec, has been discussed a lot by now. However, no one has addressed how arguments over life and death for loved ones can have lasting effects on family relationships and radically alter family dynamics.
My brother survived. Not such a happy ending for Tom Mortier, whose mother was killed by euthanasia in 2012. She was clinically depressed and had cut off contact with her son, contrary to his wishes. Tom found out his mother was dead only when he was called to make arrangements for her body at the morgue.
http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/06/16/derek-miedema-euthanasia-hurts-families/

Dangers of assisted suicide bill too many to overlook

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NJ.com 14 June 2014
John Kelly : The writer grew up in Middletown Township and is now New England regional director for the national disability rights group Not Dead Yet.
George Amick’s column “Bill would allow terminally ill patients to die in humane, dignified manner” (June 9) ignores the many dangers of legalized assisted suicide.
Assisted suicide makes for a deadly mix with our profit-driven healthcare system. With a lethal prescription costing a mere few hundred dollars, assisted suicide will immediately become the cheapest “treatment. ” For example, Oregon Medicaid refused to cover prescribed chemotherapy for Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup, while offering the cheaper assisted suicide. Such distorted medical decision-making is one reason disability rights groups across the country oppose assisted suicide. Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire listened to our objections and rejected bills this year.
Assisted suicide endangers people who experience depression. Oregonian Michael Freeland easily received a prescription despite a 43-year history of severe depression and suicide attempts. Freeland’s prescribing doctor later said that he didn’t think a psychological consultation was “necessary.”
http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/06/times_of_trenton_letters_to_the_editor_-_june_14.html#incart_river

Death is not preferable to living with a significant disability

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Alex Schadenberg Blog 16 June 2014
I’m a non-religious man with cerebral palsy. I oppose legalizing euthanasia because i’ve seen far too many unrequested do-not-resuscitate orders placed on my disabled friends and colleagues.
This occurs because many doctors, like most of society, believe that death is preferable to living with a significant disability.

Legalizing euthanasia doesn’t give people the right to die; it gives people the right to request to die.
The doctor, not the patient, gets the power to decide. Legalizing Euthanasia adds significant legitimacy to the practice of placing unrequested DNRs on disabled people.
Privileged non-disabled people are trying to legalize euthanasia so they can gain the right to die. Many marginalized devalued disabled people are opposing legalizing euthanasia because we want the right to be safe in hospitals.
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.ca/2014/06/euthanasia-death-is-not-preferable-to.html

Outrage over right to die plan for kids (Scotland)

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SundayPost.com 15 June 2014
The late Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald, who died in April after suffering Parkinson’s disease, launched a Bill to legalise euthanasia last year.
Polls revealed seven out of ten Scots support it.
Now an alliance of children’s charities is calling on the Holyrood committee considering the law change to “reflect” on the experiences of Belgium, which is the only country in the world to have no age limit.
Another group is suggesting the proposed 16-year-old age limit be reviewed in the future if the law is passed by MSPs.
However, the suggestion that terminally-ill children could be given the right to die has been branded “monstrous” by critics.
A spokesman for Care Not Killing, the campaign against the euthanasia laws, said: “Right-minded people will be baffled that such an idea can be advanced, not least from one organisation purporting to represent the interests of children.
“Such a monstrous idea should be unthinkable.”
MacDonald’s proposed law would give patients over the age of 16 the option of taking their own lives with the support of trained facilitators as long as they comply with a number of safeguards.
The Together group is an alliance of children’s charities which includes Save the Children and Barnardo’s.
http://www.sundaypost.com/news-views/politics/holyrood/outrage-over-right-to-die-plan-for-kids-1.423396

Euphemisms for Euthanasia and False Dilemmas

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The Witherspoon Institute 17 June 2014
Jacqueline C. Harvey, PhD, a bioethicist whose research focuses primarily on end-of-life legislation, is an Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute.
When Vermont became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide through the legislature in summer 2013, I predicted here at Public Discourse that proponents would more aggressively target other New England states to spread their agenda in 2014. Therefore, it was not surprising that New England faced a powerful onslaught of voluntary euthanasia bills within the past few months, particularly in New Hampshire and Connecticut. While New Hampshire overwhelmingly voted down the proposal by a margin of 219 to 66, Connecticut legislators allowed the bill to die a quiet death in committee.
I was among the last of over 100 witnesses to testify on the Connecticut bill in a hearing that lasted over ten hours. At the hearing, I observed the latest strategies employed by euthanasia advocates to sell suicide to the catastrophically ill. These can be ultimately whittled down to two primary strategies: first, wordplay that attempts to soften the truth about assisted suicide; and second, false dilemmas, which suggest that suicide is inevitable and that death by poison is preferable to other methods.
Sanitizing Suicide: Killing as Compassion
Physician-assisted suicide advocates learned in the early days of their crusade that people do not like the word “suicide.” Prior to Vermont, states that decriminalized the practice did so through carefully crafted ballot initiatives that glossed over the academic literature and its concerns about state-sanctioned killing. These campaigns used clever slogans to suggest that assisted suicide is a positive act, a personal choice, and a matter of compassion for the dying. The Hemlock Society even rebranded itself, changing its name to Compassion & Choices. This suggests that offering an ill person poison is compassionate and that suicide is a legitimate choice for persons with terminal diagnoses. Word choice is critical: a 2013 poll showed a steep 19-point difference when people were asked if they support “assisted suicide” rather than “ending a patient’s life.”
Although the act is the same, the perception of euthanasia is shrewdly euphemized as “aid in dying” or “death with dignity” to make what is tragic and cruel appear helpful, empowering, and even compassionate. Conversely, such euphemisms imply that pain control and palliative care are somehow lacking in empathy.
http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2014/06/13332/?utm_source=The+Witherspoon+Institute&utm_campaign=fbc254aee2-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_15ce6af37b-fbc254aee2-84094405

Doctors call for better end-of-life care, not euthanasia

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Toronto Sun 10 June 2014
There’s an urgent need for more and better palliative care right across the country, says the Canadian Medical Association (CMA).
The group issued results Tuesday from a national consultation on end-of-life care.
“If you were to stop and ask Canadians the one thing they are afraid of is dying alone, dying in pain and being a burden,” CMA President Louis Francescutti said. “Palliative care goes an enormous long way to address all of those three issues.”
Francescutti says 70% of Canadians don’t have access to palliative care.
“We’ve got to focus on delivering better access to care, and especially better access to palliative care at the end of the day,” he said, calling for a national palliative care strategy.
The CMA report concludes Canadians want to have some control over the end of their lives, but remain very divided on euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide.
http://www.torontosun.com/2014/06/10/doctors-call-for-better-end-of-life-care-not-euthanasia

Five euthanised every day in Belgium, new figures show

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The Christian Institute 30 May 2014
An average of five people are being euthanised every day in Belgium, according to new figures.
The statistics, published in a French-speaking newspaper in Belgium, show that in 2013 cases of euthanasia increased by close to 27 per cent compared to the previous year.
The newspaper, ‘Sudpresse’, said: “You could say that currently there are 150 cases of euthanasia per month in Belgium or, even more telling, five people euthanised a day”.
Of the 1,816 cases last year, over half of the people euthanised were aged between 70 and 90.
Those who were under 60 amounted to 15 per cent of the total, and cases of 90-yr-olds and over being euthanised made up seven per cent.
In March this year, the king of Belgium signed into law a Bill which made the nation the first country in the world to allow euthanasia for terminally ill children of all ages.
http://www.christian.org.uk/news/five-euthanised-every-day-in-belgium-new-figures-show/

Voluntary euthanasia concern

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Stuff co.nz 30 May 2014
Decriminalising voluntary euthanasia could usher in an era of “therapeutic killing”, a new report warns.
The Family First-commissioned report “Killing Me Softly – Should Euthanasia be legalised” by law professor Rex Ahdar from Otago University, warns of the potential for further elder abuse with voluntary euthanasia.
Ahdar says while safeguards can be put in place, they can only go so far and would likely be abused.
He says terminally ill people and those with other serious conditions were vulnerable to self-imposed pressure.
Ahdar’s report says the majority of the medical profession around the world are against introducing voluntary euthanasia.
Family First commissioned the report after Labour MP Maryan Street promised to look at changing the law after September’s election.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/eastern-courier/10099874/Voluntary-euthanasia-concern